15 April, 2024

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Rat Cunning Or Intelligent Nation Building?

By Ravi Perera

Ravi Perera

Nothing doth more hurt in a State than that cunning men pass for wise” ~ Francis Bacon

In parliament recently President Ranil Wickremesinghe suggested to an opposition member that he had no ‘brains’, furthermore adding that the MP neither had the power. 

The latter observation is obviously gratuitous, after all, the victim of the Presidential putdown is only an elected member of the opposition while the scheme of our constitution bestows immense powers on the office of the President. 

It is the former suggestion – a deficiency in the opposition legislator’s brainpower, a comparative assessment of a human faculty that invites further musings. A difficult endeavour however; the generally accepted methodologies of assessing such endowments, the Intelligence quotient (IQ) or emotional quotient (EQ) tests while efficacious overall, are not considered perfect, their results needing further qualification. 

Implicit in the Presidential taunt is an assumption of his own superior brain power, which in some quarters  has become an article of faith. When societies are defined by patron – client relationships, such faith is inevitable; the patron is driven to justify his eminence, while the client believer must explain his belief. When it comes to self–justification, human ingenuity is limitless. 

Nothing in Sri Lanka on the other hand, suggests superior intelligence, ability or application. It is the very opposite that predominates, everything around us only underlines an irrefutable mediocrity: a decrepit country now bankrupt; deep-rooted social discontent, a corrupt and nepotistic political culture, a hilariously inept bureaucracy, substandard services, an overall  productivity level below the global average; altogether a system which has failed miserably, a system now increasingly falling back on violence and repression for its rationale – we are right because we have the guns! 

That our parliamentarians are not too bright may be self-evident, the pathetic state of the country today offers only one inference. About half a century ago there was this very capable Minister who having surveyed his colleagues is said to have quipped that to the average parliamentarian (of the time) a cheque book was the eighth wonder of the world- by signing on a slip of paper you could settle your purchases! Then, intelligence has many hues -spectacularly unfit for legislating or administering they may be, in building their personal wealth our legislators have proved themselves world-class!

Ours is not a failure that occurred suddenly. One bungler replaced by the next, blunder following blunder, each act of omission more criminal than the last, every government outdoing its predecessor in covering up corruption, the storm was gathering, but slowly. The Sri Lankan failure built up gradually from almost the time of independence, when a peaceful nation and a reasonable economy, was handed over to our leaders to govern. There is a wearisome sameness about them; coming from a handful of families, invariably second or third generation in politics, same secondary schools (established by the colonialists/evangelists, a fact proudly stressed), exaggerated religiosity with rituals predominating or cultural adherences (white sarong in public), punditry flows freely, the oratory is grandiloquent; big talk but only small deeds, a country mediocre in every way.

Hovering over this sorry scene like a haunting spectre is the 1978 constitution; not a single dull moment for this nation since its adoption it seems! A period of history horribly distorted by horrendous race riots, barbarous civil wars and gut-wrenching insurrections following in its track. An avowed ambition of the constitution was the rapid economic development of the country; an executive President, empowered by a nationwide-mandate, freed from day to day parliamentary pressures and quibbling, will lead the charge. It was all balderdash, every country in our part of the world marched ahead, while we are stuck with this rigid constitution; everyone damns it, none has the moral strength to throw it out. 

Now we could assess the careers of our post -independence leaders in perspective. Their very nature; how they think, work, ideas they embrace or resist, their basic impulses, all conspire against modern day national leadership. No successful nation, no country which has become prosperous, will have this type of men as decision makers or administrators.

Taking the post 1948 era as one period of history, it seems failure was their ultimate aim. Having no political principles, they resorted to empty posturing, with no gifts of mind or character to speak of they represented their low cunning as signs of intelligence, while mismanaging the country outrageously, they lectured it.A heedless nation swallowed it all.

Our leaders today celebrate when they obtain a loan to service previous loans, seventy-five years of unbroken buffoonery has led this nation to ignominy.  

A farrago of confusions and contradictions the constitution may have proved itself, however at the time (in 1978) JR Jayewardene obviously thought, among his other innumerable gifts, he also had a special insight into constitution making. After his overwhelming electoral victory of 1977, JR Jayewardene was reinvented in the public imagination to be something exceptional, a leader of a global scale, sizzling with knowledge, palpitating with wisdom! If nothing else, our culture seems to endow office holders with an unmerited self-infatuation, higher the office, greater the vanity, ultimately leaving on stage, an absurd scarecrow, compensating a sorely disappointed nation with a few laughs.

The 1978 constitution boasts its democratic essence. But now in the form of Ranil Wickremesinghe, it has brought upon this nation an unelected person as the President. This followed the inglorious exit of Gotabaya Rajapaksa the elected President whose disastrous decision making had made him simply untenable. Where there is even a semblance of decency in public life, such a successor carries a ‘pro tempore’ nature, working towards electing a legitimate President at the earliest. Not only was Wickremesinghe not elected to the office of the President, he was rejected by the people even from representing them in Parliament.

When discussing unforeseen vacancies occurring in the office of a Head of State, we are often referred to the resignation of President Nixon (1974) and his succession by Vice President Gerald Ford. In this case, Ford was Richard Nixon’s running mate on the Republican Party ticket, in other words, the voter was well aware that Ford would succeed, if anything were to happen to President Nixon.

That is very different to what happened in Sri Lanka.The voter really had no say in the appointment of Ranil Wickremesnghe as their President at any stage. Going by their voting, they never wanted him to represent them anywhere.

Let us say you have a neighbour whose extravagant lifestyle has led to his bankruptcy. And, now you learn that his wife is terminally sick. Does their misfortune permit you to simply walk into the neighbour’s house to advise them on finances or medical procedures? Your neighbour is entitled to show you the door “Sorry Mr. Interloper, we rather perish than you interfering in our lives!”

The consent of the ruled is an absolute, incontrovertible principle of democracy.

A constitution deriving its validity from democratic ideals, now denies itself.

There is a typically high-flown preamble to the 1978 constitution.

“SvastiThe people of Sri Lanka having, by their mandate freely expressed and granted  on the sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of Adhi Nikini in the year two thousand five hundred and twenty one of the Buddhist era (being Thursday, the twenty first day of the month of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy seven) entrusted to and empowered their representatives elected on that day to draft, adopt and operate a new Republican Constitution in order to achieve  the goals of a Democratic Socialist Republic, and having solemnly resolved  by the grant of  such mandate  and the confidence reposed in their said representatives who were elected by an overwhelming majority, to constitute Sri Lanka into a Democratic Socialist Republic, while ratifying the immutable republican principles of Representative Democracy, and assuring to all peoples freedom, equality, justice, fundamental human rights, and the independence of the judiciary as the intangible heritage that guarantees the dignity and wellbeing of succeeding  generations of the people of Sri Lanka and of all the people of the world, who come to share with those generations the effort of working for the creation and preservation of a just and free society.  

We the freely elected representatives of the people of Sri Lanka in pursuance of such mandate, humbly acknowledging our obligations to our people and gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain and preserve their rights and privileges so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured. Just, social, economic and cultural order attained, the unity of the country restored and concord established with other nations, do hereby adopt and enact this constitution as the supreme law of the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka

Even without a reference to the country, from its clumsy verbosity, the originating country could easily be guessed at.

Words, words, words! 

If only they could mean something!

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Latest comments

  • 5
    6

    Is there a way to identify the cunning. Yes. But, only after the fact!

    • 5
      1

      National rebuidling will be a mammoth task.
      :
      The same factions that set off the firecrackers with the dawn of the Gota era in November 2019, yesterday announced the approval of the IMF bailout. no body else, Rajapakshe supporting SLPP fractions.
      -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIwaFFkcesc

      they made the slogan today ” those who were deceived by water snake in Nov 2019, joyed today under another leader”: However, they are all naked.
      :
      These stupid people don’t understand anything, they just act no different to blind devotees back then. The same group of people queuing up to catch the ” PANACEA RATION – concocted by a mental patient ” was their thoughts to heal from COVID.
      :
      The sad reality is that some of MBBS graduates, engineers, professionals and other advanced professionals also represent the group. Let “grass” be their staple food.

  • 4
    4

    Is there a way to identify the intelligent. Yes. By the eyes. Eyes don’t cheat.

    • 3
      0

      I am against the death penalty in public, but after hearing the so-called conspiracy theories of Vimal Buruvanse, I feel he should be given a public lethal injection once for all.
      No doubt all progressive candidates will support my view on this. This man WW should have been imprisoned and rehabilitated for a long time. The greater impact of those blatant conspiracy theories spread by such ignorant politicians are the real enemies of our society.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWIQYYigad0

  • 6
    6

    Forget about Nation Building.
    Show me a President who was/is not cunning.

    • 3
      6

      “When discussing unforeseen vacancies occurring in the office of a Head of State, we are often referred to the resignation of President Nixon (1974) and his succession by Vice President Gerald Ford.”
      I believe Chandrika’s package included two non-Sinhalese vice-presidents. That idea predictably vanished. I don’t suppose any Mahanayaka in his right mind would contemplate a non-Sinhala/non-Buddhist Head of Stae.

      • 12
        9

        A good idea ? Were VP’s to be elected ? Or the VP was going to be unelected and without a mandate to rule ?

        OC, can we have this idea in the Provincial Governments , for example a Sinhala Buddhist as Chief Minister of the North ?

        • 4
          0

          DS,
          “Were VP’s to be elected ?”
          Maybe it was supposed to be the US system, where the Presidential candidate selects a running mate. In this case, two running mates.
          Gota had a mandate. Did it do any good?

          • 10
            11

            Jesus ! OC, a little reading, a bit of English, a few million rupees extracted from this country and growing old in this culture has damaged you so much , made you grotesque like RW !

            You are saying getting a mandate ( having elections) does no good !

            So You will decide who is best !

            Who will you (OC)appoint President USA ?
            PM in UK ?
            President of Sri Lanka ( that of course we know, before you could do it ,the Rajapaksa family have appointed the ideal guy/gal !)
            Governor of our Central Bank ? Chairman of Board of Investments ? Chairman of Bank of Ceylon? Chairman of the UNP ?

            Tell us who you will appoint ( you are free to consult RW before you tell us ! !)
            Your appointees will make this country a heaven on earth !

            • 5
              4

              DS
              Answer the question. You gave Gota a mandate and he ruined agriculture and the economy. No gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, turmeric, etc.
              Is the situation now better or worse?

              • 3
                0

                OC,
                .
                This is how our officers act in so called entities.
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkUOfRu3ZME

                • 4
                  0

                  LM,
                  NAITA is just another place to put otherwise unemployable individuals. But I found it very funny to watch Mahindananda talking about somebody else’s incompetence.

              • 11
                9

                OC Dont you feel embarrassed to bum someone like RW in this manner !
                As a man of some common sense you should know that I cannot give a straight answer to whether things are better now without clear definition of what exactly you mean.
                Are you referring to our GDP ,integrity index, productivity , stock market, foreign investments ,the list is very long.Where is the improvement ?
                The Afghanistan government says they have improved a lot since the Americans left. Less people are dying in that country. Women however are not encouraged to study. They say it is an improvement.( having no elections you will say is an improvement !)
                Here too no petrol queues and other things are now available. What precise decision of Ranil helped here ? in any country ,even in Iraq certain things sometimes improve.
                Sri Lanka has got IMF loans 15 times before .
                I wonder how we managed that without an input from Ranil ! Ha Ha

    • 3
      0

      N,
      .
      Do you mean in Sri Lanka or somewhere else?
      If the presidential system is not the executive system, there are plenty of genuine presidents in the world.
      If the focus is on our country, you might be right.

  • 16
    7

    Dear Mr Ravi Perera,
    .
    I have read many of your previous articles, and commented on some. You have started here by presenting an accurate account of our history from Independence to date.
    .
    That contrast between the way Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon in 1974, was something new that throws even more light on the inexcusability of our tolerating Ranil Wickremasinghe as President of this country.
    .
    Although the analysis is fine, you have suggested no solution. When further comments appear, I shall say more.
    .
    Your articles don’t usually lead to sufficient comments. Could it be because there is anther Ravi Perera, (definitely not you, much lower IQ) who makes frequent comments on articles?
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 283111444V)

  • 4
    1

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe suggested to an opposition member that he had no ‘brains’, furthermore adding that the MP neither had the power.

    The president also has no People votes. (Suffer for people, Tax from the people, Pay dept from the future)

    Look at the country after the trail of your leadership end with bankrupt and no one knew until happened like this, recovery is done by Tax people suffer

  • 8
    0

    In short, ” Svasti- the imbeciles of Silly Lanka having, by their mandate entrusted to and empowered equally racist, hypocrite and immoral politicians of ours, elected on that day to draft, adopt and operate a systematic, organized, government sponsored ethnic cleansing agenda in order to achieve the goals of crooked , criminal politicians, assuring all a dysfunctional, failed , bankrupt and INdependent judiciary as the intangible heritage that guarantees Debt, starvation, suffering of succeeding generations

    • 7
      0

      We the crooks and criminals, elected as representatives of the people of Silly Lanka in pursuance of systematic, organized, cleansing of minorities, acknowledging our obligation to our SB and remembering their pogroms, violence and hatred towards minorities to preserve their entitlements and privileges, so that the rights and freedom of minorities may be denied. SHAM social, economical, cultural order attained, the assumed ownership of the country restored and concocted relationships established with other nations, do hereby adopt and enact this constipation, as the supreme law of SB Lanka. Within months of enacting, the mastermind amended constitution to become executive President, wrote a new constitution granting him sweeping powers, stripped the civic rights of opponent to get re-elected in 82, held referendum to cancel 83 parliamentary elections so that his majority could continue till 89, sent mobs to CJ’s house to attack and intimidate, organized one of the worse pogroms, where thousands died and many left the country for good, India was forced to amend the constitution, and 45 years after, we are a dysfunctional, failed, bankrupt Banana Republic where the nephew is promising glory again, in 2048.

  • 1
    17

    Ravi Perara,

    First nyou have to build yourself as human being, then may well think about

    The Lion in that Bengal cave only took prey for hunger and your hunger is genocide of others.

    Get lost, you scum of the scum.

  • 19
    18

    Wasn’t RW going to write his autobiography after his shocking defeat wiped out the UNP ?

    In this book he was going to explain everything about Sri Lanka, our history ( also global history) ,political science, economics ,IMF, Central Bank, Sovereign Bonds and even tradition of Royal/ Thomian Cricket.

    Since RW became President this project has been forgotten .

    If he wrote the book the entire human race would have benefitted from his unbelievable knowledge !

    Perhaps the biggest tragedy in the history of human knowledge !

    Mangala said the best president we never had, we say the best book never written !

    • 13
      7

      deepthi desperate silva

      “we say the best book never written !”

      Do you know the name of the best book that has never been witten?
      Can you guess the name of the book that has never been witten?
      Thanks you.

    • 7
      0

      Rebuilding the nation is imperative. That will then be the foundation for everything in that beautiful island. That is the first requirement.

      Discipline and legal behavior must be strictly enforced to control its people. It can only be achieved by enforcing strict law and order.

      They should stop misinterpreting the progressive proposals being brought to Parliament.
      Religion should say goodbye to their arbitrary interference in political decisions for a better future.
      :
      Then the model of goverannce would be similar to SPD in Germany or Socialism in Sweden
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lxD-gikpMs

      • 6
        0

        Dear LM
        Society building, if done correctly, would mean that all citizens will begin to enjoy the benefits!. Do we really want that?
        .
        The Asian and African mentality is that “let me go up in life, but others should not”.
        So how can we move forward with such an attitude?
        .
        The Germans are different. They look at each other with dignity and mutual respect. You know this very well much better than me, I don’t need to tell you.
        .
        It comes from the rudiments of Christian teaching, love thy neighbor as thyself.
        Though they may not go to church every Sunday, they have core Christian values at heart.
        .
        Not only Germans, take any other nation which is prospering, you will find that the citizens wish well for others.
        .
        That is what sets us apart from the rest of the developed world. We do not wish well for others therefore instead of putting our efforts together to push forward, we exhibit typical “CRAB MENTALITY” where we chose to pull the legs of those that are trying to rise above us.
        .
        We can never never achieve greatness with this attitude. Even after 2,500 years of history, living in this island we are where we started.
        .
        We have to address our subconscious weaknesses and complexes to begin to understand that we are all human and we all desire the same things, and we all deserve to achieve our aspirations provided we one is ready to work for it. The country will be a much better place.

        • 4
          0

          I m in full agreement with u HT🙂 so long they would realise it , dreams of a tiny portion of rational thinkers would never be able to see their dreams coming true.
          Just look how they behave just hearing that IMF bailout is
          Now approved..
          Ethiopians got passed some more yesterday regarding their ethnic issues, but they behaved better.☹

        • 2
          0

          HT,
          .
          even higher academics in our country corrupted.
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rzqv-TooJ8&t=549s

          • 1
            0

            even higher academics are in our country corrupted.

  • 5
    0

    “…with no gifts of mind or character to speak of they represented their low cunning as signs of intelligence, while mismanaging the country outrageously, they lectured it.”

    This is the third time in recent months a Sinhalese author writing on CT has brought attention to what Robert Knox said about the Sinhalese, that they have “low cunning which they mistake for high intelligence ! ”

    The others are Prof. Ekanayake and Suranimala. I wouldn’t normally take anything a white man during the colonial era said seriously because that would have been tinged with racism. But in this instance, multiple, fair-minded Sinhalese authors have brought attention to it. Perhaps when it comes to the Sinhalese political class, there is some truth to it.

    • 5
      1

      Agnos, beware . SJ may accuse them of “bashing their own community” . But he doesn’t mind bashing his own community, language and culture. A true Lankan.

  • 4
    0

    “Nothing doth more hurt in a State than that cunning men pass for wise” ~ Francis Bacon
    .
    I think this applies aptly to the Rajapaksa bastards than anyone else.
    .
    They used their village level cunningness to deceive the majority of equally stupid idiots who think they know everything, but have zero intellect (the 6.9 million).
    .
    The results of this is clearly reflected in the present state the country is in today.
    .
    I wonder when our people will change?

    • 4
      0

      Wimal Buruwanse is a powerful speaker yet today in parliament, can u imagine? .
      .
      In a civilised society, he or the like would be locked up forever. .
      .
      😐🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

  • 3
    1

    The superior or inferior intellect of the politicians on both sides of the isle including the President, the Speaker, Attorney General and even the Judiciary could be questioned from the latest action of removing travel ban imposed on Mahinda and Basil. Why I say this?

    As we all know, Mahinda and Basil and their family members have stashed their black bribe money in various countries. As per the IMF condition, SL Government has to inact laws, based on UN conventions to recover the stolen money and stop corruption. This removal of travel ban will now freely allow Mahinda and Basil to travel abroad freely, and in Mahinda’s case financed by the tax payers for him and his band wagon, to move their black money around.

    When there are so many cases that are still going through the court system how can a travel ban be removed without any restrictions? Further, when there is a ghost owned mansion of Basil has not been vested in the Government releasing Basil’s travel ban begs the question what pressure was used on the Judiciary to get this ruling.

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